The lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) biological opinion and incidental take statement for the Atlantic Coast (ACP) that led to work stopping on the project is scheduled for oral argument on Thursday, May 9 before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The original FWS permit was voided by the Fourth Circuit in May 2018 in response to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and the Virginia Wilderness Committee. A new FWS permit was issued on September 11, 2018 and is being challenged in this case.
SELC argues that the FWS’s reissued permit relied on a series of irrational assumptions that mischaracterized the potential impact of the ACP route on the Rusty Patch Bumble Bee and erred in its analysis of the project’s impact on three other endangered species: the clubshell mussel, Indiana bat and Madison Cave isopod.
The petitioners are requesting that the Court vacate the reissued biological opinion and incidental take statement. A copy of the SELC opening brief is available here.